MDEQ addresses asbestos concerns

Published 2:29 pm Monday, March 4, 2024

BROOKHAVEN — Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality reports they have not received any notifications about asbestos hazards at the former Stahl-Urban building which burned last week. Brookhaven residents expressed concern and asked questions about asbestos risks in the wake of the fire last week. 

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral which is fire resistant. It is also known to pose a health risk to humans. 

“Generally speaking, the amount of asbestos fibers released into the air during a fire tends to be very low,” a spokeswoman for MDEQ said. “It is unlikely that anyone in the immediate area of an active fire would experience any long-term substantial risk of asbestos exposure.”

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After a fire, asbestos fibers could remain in debris and could thus pose a risk if disturbed. MDEQ has not received a notification about the building containing asbestos. 

If there was any asbestos, cleanup on site would depend on a few factors. Demolition of unburned structures would need to be subject to asbestos NESHAP regulatons. 

“State and federal regulations dictate how buildings are demolished and, although it may not be covered by the Asbestos NESHAP regulations, there is guidance on the cleanup and disposal of debris,” the spokeswoman for MDEQ said. “This includes keeping materials wet and disposal in an approved landfill.” 

Brookhaven Fire Chief Jeff Ainsworth asked people last week to stay out of the Stahl-Urban building as it is not safe. The remaining walls could collapse at any time.